Baby foods – too much sugar and too little iron
The high sugar content of commercial baby foods has been flagged as a concern in a study of products in Australian supermarkets.
Researchers from Sydney University caution that while most baby foods do not include added sugar, the majority contain fruit to meet young children’s inbuilt preference for sweet tastes. This contributes to excess energy intake and the development of tooth decay and dental cavities.
Nonetheless, the researchers say the majority of baby foods sold in Australia “are of high nutritional quality”.
The consumption of commercial baby foods can be as high as 90% at 9 months of age, report the researchers, who are concerned that ready-made products are replacing more nutrient-dense foods.
The study highlights a noticeable absence of fortification with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) among some of the most popular brands and a lack of nutritional information on labels, with only 1 in 20 giving the iron content on the label.
“Given that the Infant Feeding Guidelines advise parents to start with iron-containing foods during the introduction of solids and that an increasing number of consumers are using commercial infant and baby foods, declaring the content of micronutrients on-pack would be an important addition to help consumers select healthier products within this food,” write the researchers in the journal Maternal Child Health.
Of the 341 products analysed, almost a third were considered “high” in total sugar. Dry finger foods were higher in sodium than soft foods, with the 10 highest sodium products coming from this category. Less than a third of all products were fortified with at least one micronutrient.
Despite this finding, they note baby and toddler foods have been overlooked in public policy discussion and that their relatively high sugar content requires close attention.
Last Reviewed: 24/07/2015
Dunford E et al. The Nutritional Profile of Baby and Toddler Food Products Sold in Australian Supermarkets. Maternal Child Health J 2015; July 14.
Sugar and sugar cravings
Our consumption of free sugar has tripled since 1960, with soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice and cordial the most significant sources. The World Health Organization recommends free sugars be less than 10% of your total energy intake - that's 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
Food labels: a guide to reading nutrition labels
Understanding the nutrition information on a food label can help you to make more informed choices about the food that you eat.
Arthritis and nutrition
Researchers have been exploring potential links between diet and arthritis for many decades. However, there is little evidence to indicate that taking expensive food supplements or eating elaborate diets are any better than eating well-balanced meals.
Eating well in pregnancy
Eating a nutritious and varied diet in pregnancy is the best way of caring for yourself and your baby.
Dietary guidelines for healthy eating
The Australian Dietary Guidelines are designed to give you enough of the nutrients essential for good health and reduce your risk of some diseases.